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The Free-Feeding Fail

The Free-Feeding Fail

As 2020 begins winding down, the puppies and kittens who joined our families when Covid forced us to stay home have begun to mature. For many of us, our lock down routines may be starting to change as well. Maybe our children are back in brick and mortar school. Or perhaps the home office is empty and the commute has returned. As our routines change, our pets' lives will change with them, and disruptions to their feeding schedules often occur. When this happens, many pet owners give up on scheduled meal times and leave food down at all times so their pets can eat at will. Known in veterinary circles as free feeding, this type of feeding schedule often creates far more problems than it solves.

Pets who are free fed can develop behavioral problems and are more prone to finicky eating. This becomes problematic as pets enter the stages of life when long term medical problems become more common. Many health concerns can be managed with supplements or medications, some of which must be given with regularly scheduled meals. Liver support supplements and insulin are just two examples of treatments that cannot be given independent of meals. Additionally, many pets require prescription diets which may not be especially palatable. Pets who lose their food drive as a result of having constant access to food may not be eager to accept such changes. It is therefore always recommended to maintain scheduled meal times as your pet matures, and to remove any uneaten food fifteen minutes after presenting it.

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